Reading about the 3 Sylvesters Judd in Life and character of the Rev. Sylvester Judd. Grandfather Sylvester established a large farm estate in Southampton, opened general stores in Norwich and Westhampton, and was a Calvinist reverend. “He was one of the members of the first Convention for framing a Constitution for Massachusetts in 1779″: impressive!
The store that Grandfather Sylvester built in Westhampton still stands, and can be seen on the corner of Stage Rd. and South Rd.
This aside about how Grandfather Sylvester celebrated Thanksgiving includes a mention of something called “flip”:
“Every thing which the farm or the store afforded was laid under contribution. The festivity was prefaced with a rich mug of flip and genuine New England cider formed the beverage of the meal. It seemed to be almost a conscientious principle with some to make on this day a thankoffering upon the festal board of every article of food with which the God of harvests had blessed their store” (6).
As an aspiring locavore, I had to know what flip is:
American flip was made in a great pewter mug or earthen pitcher filled two-thirds full of strong beer; sweetened with sugar, molasses, or dried pumpkin, according to individual taste or capabilities; and flavored with “a dash”–about a gill–of New England rum. Into this mixture was thrust and stirred a red-hot loggerhead, made of iron and shaped like a poker, and the seething iron made the liquor foam and bubble and mantle high, and gave it the burnt, bitter taste so dearly loved.
And that “genuine New England cider”:
All the colonists drank cider, old and young, and in all places,–funerals, weddings, ordainings, vestry-meetings, church-raisings, etc. Infants in arms drank mulled hard cider at night, a beverage which would kill a modern babe. It was supplied to students at Harvard and Yale colleges at dinner and bever, being passed in two quart tankards from hand to hand down the commons table. Old men began the day with a quart or more of hard cider before breakfast. Delicate women drank hard cider. All laborers in the field drank it in great draughts that were often liberally fortified with drams of New England rum.
Kind of upends our cherished image of the colonists as goody-two-shoes, doesn’t it–a quart or more before breakfast!
Recalling the days “before it was a sin to quaff the pure juice of the apple,” Grandson Sylvester (the Transcendentalist) expressed his moral disapproval of the alcoholic colonial era to his mother in a letter he sent from Harvard to Northampton in 1837:
“The man who invented the sin of a cider draught ought to be compelled to drink and feed on bran bread and water all his days. Who will write the history of New England’s cider or the tale of the last cider drinker? Thanksgiving was always a favored time. Freegiving would be a better name. Great times we used to have at Grandpa Judd’s at Thanksgiving. There were good eating and good drinking and good feeling. There was the mug of flip too. I remember it well. Father thinks I am a little beset with a spiritual nature. Yet those were glorious times. They are gone” (417).
The glorious times aren’t over actually–at least when it comes to cider.
—Brad Morse, owner-farmer of Outlook Farm in Westhampton, will be at the Westhampton Library on Monday Oct. 19 at 7pm talking about his orchards, apples and cider-making.
—Franklin County is hosting its 15th annual CiderDays on Nov. 7 & 8! Michael Phillips, author of The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist will be leading orchard walks on Saturday and Sunday.